The professor here writes that this professor finds it necessary to write under the pseudonym of "Thomas Benton" when discussing the gun issue tells you something about academia.
What can be done to protect faculty members from potentially dangerous students?
Ultimately, nothing. Or so it seems.
Teachers are all, in varying degrees, personally vulnerable for three reasons:
First, it is our job to demand difficult tasks of people and judge the results in ways that can have consequences for their future. Sometimes we are called upon to challenge students' beliefs in ways they may deem offensive.
Second, we cannot pursue disciplinary action within a college unless we are willing to accept the possibility of personal retaliation by the student outside the college's area of jurisdiction, off the campus, or after graduation. Moreover, disciplinary action against one student does nothing to restrain the actions of a disgruntled student's allies, possibly after a long interval.
Third, it is increasingly difficult for us to maintain our personal privacy because of the circulation of information on the Internet. . . . .
During the past seven years, there have been several incidents of vandalism at our house in the country about 10 minutes from the college. Our mailbox has been destroyed twice, incidents I have written off as teenage pranks. We frequently hear gunshots in the night, but there are a lot of hunters in the country who shoot at animals and other targets from their cars. About once a year, we find bags of garbage split and scattered on our property, but people dispose of things that way around here without personal malice, I assume.
Some things can't be dismissed, however. One night I heard a chainsaw running, opened a window, and realized someone was in our front yard, cutting down one of our trees. I came out with a flashlight, and the chainsaw-wielder ran to the passenger side of a pickup truck, and the two people roared away. I didn't get the license number; the car's lights were off. The next day a police officer took notes and said nothing could be done.
After that, we installed more outdoor lighting and adopted a German shepherd, and I bought a 12-gauge shotgun and learned how to use it. There is no way I am going out in the middle of the night to investigate intruders again with nothing but a flashlight in my hands. . . .
Labels: GunFreeZone, pseudonym